Plato — or Woody Woodpecker?

Today’s Zippy, at the Existential Automat:


First, a litany of philosophical approaches, then one of animated cartoon studios, plus Woody Woodpecker in the last panel (and, by allusion to the pileated woodpecker, in the title of the strip).

The studios:

Disney. The big dog in this territory, home of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and lots more. (I find it almost impossible to think about the Disney studio without having the Mickey Mouse Club March run through my head: M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Evil earworm.)

Terrytoons. From Wikipedia:

Terrytoons was an animation studio founded by Paul Terry. The studio, located in suburban New Rochelle, New York, operated from 1929 to 1968. The studio created many popular cartoon characters including Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse, Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, Dinky Duck and Luno. The “New Terrytoons” period of the late 1950s and 60s brought us Sidney, Hector Heathcote, Hashimoto and Deputy Dawg as well as The Mighty Heroes. Famed animator Ralph Bakshi got his start at Terrytoons.

Looney Tunes. From this blog, on 6/15/14, about Warner Brothers animator Chuck Jones, a posting, listing some of the popular Looney Tunes characters: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, Tweety, Wile E. Coyote, and the Road Runner.

The Fleischers. From Wikipedia:

Fleischer Studios, Inc., was an American corporation which originated as an animation studio located at 1600 Broadway, New York City, New York. It was founded in 1921 as Inkwell Studios (or Out of the Inkwell Films) by brothers Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer who ran the company from its inception until Paramount Pictures, the studio’s parent company and the distributor of its films, forced them to resign in April 1942. In its prime, it was Walt Disney Productions’s very first significant competitor and is notable for bringing to the screen cartoons featuring Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Bimbo, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman. Unlike other studios, whose most famous characters were anthropomorphic animals, the Fleischers’ most popular characters were humans.

And Woody Woodpecker. First, from Wikipedia:

Woody Woodpecker is an anthropomorphic animated woodpecker who appeared in theatrical short films produced by the Walter Lantz animation studio and distributed by Universal Pictures. Though not the first of the screwball characters that became popular in the 1940s, Woody is perhaps the most indicative of the type.
Woody was created in 1940 by Lantz and storyboard artist Ben “Bugs” Hardaway, who had previously laid the groundwork for two other screwball characters, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, at the Warner Bros. cartoon studio in the late 1930s.

(Another annoying earworm: “The Woody Woodpecker Song”, featuring Woody’s famous laugh (an imitation of a woodpecker call). According to Wikipedia, Woody got his own theme song in 1947, and then “Kay Kyser’s 1948 recording of the song, with Harry Babbitt’s laugh interrupting vocalist Gloria Wood, became one of the biggest hit singles of 1948” and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.)

According to Wikipedia on the acorn woodpecker, “Walter Lantz is believed to have patterned the call of his cartoon character Woody Woodpecker on that of the acorn woodpecker, while patterning his appearance on that of the pileated woodpecker, which has a prominent crest”:


An actual pileated woodpecker:


On the bird, from Wikipedia:

The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus, formerly Picus pileatus) is a very large North American woodpecker, roughly crow-sized, inhabiting deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast. It is also the largest woodpecker in the United States, except the possibly extinct ivory-billed woodpecker.

(Pileated woodpeckers are both very large and very noisy.)

And on the name pileated, with definitions from Merriam-Webster (at online):

pileated ‘having a crest covering the pileum’ [pronounced /ˈpV li ˌe təd/, where V is aj or I]

pileum ‘the top of the head of a bird from the bill to the nape’ [pronounced /ˈpaj li əm/

Woodpeckers seem to count as intrinsically silly, perhaps in part because of the name woodpecker, whose second element is a U.S. vulgar slang term for ‘penis’. And many people find pileated also silly, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me (though maybe a first syllable that sounds like either pile or pill has something to do with it).

In any case, Woody Woodpecker is in fact a very silly character.

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